“That is unless you’ve already been skinny-dipping in a Jacuzzi with an editor with a gigantic hard-on.”
Tapping her lips with one finger, Julia looked as if she were trying to recollect such an event. “Hmm.” Ticking off the list on her fingers, she asked, “Skinny-dipping, Jacuzzi and horny editor—all of them together, not separate, right?”
“Let me put it this way, Brown Eyes,” Ross said, hands on his hips as he glared down at her from the side of the bed. “I find I enjoy being your first in all things, editorially and sexually, so maybe you shouldn’t try too hard to remember.”
“Oh.” Julia giggled. “So I should let you play caveman while I pretend to be a chaste virgin and let you do all sorts of unspeakable things to me?”
“Now you’re getting it.” Reaching down, he picked her up.
“Ross,” she cried, swatting at him, “put me down. You’ll hurt yourself.”
“Jules,” Ross berated, “if you make one more ridiculous comment about your weight, I’ll turn you over my knee again. I bench press more than you’ll ever weigh at the gym every day.”
“No buts,” he interrupted, carrying her across the room to the bathroom. “Time for a nice hot soak. You must be sore.”
“Not really.” She squirmed slightly. He sensed she was still uncomfortable with her nudity in his presence. He also suspected she was feeling painful twinges in unfamiliar places. A long, hot bath was just what she needed.
As he set her down, she reached for a towel, only to have him lightly swat her hand away.
“No,” he said firmly. “No hiding. Not from me, not here. I like looking at you.”
“I like looking at you too.”
At her words, his already-rejuvenating erection rose to nearly full mast. Once the tub was filled, Ross added some soaking salts and turned on the jets before lifting Julia over the rim to place her on one of the benches.
“Ah,” she breathed, sliding down deeper in the hot water, “this is heavenly.”
Joining her, Ross had to agree.
After years of friendship, the two were able to sit in companionable silence without feeling uncomfortable.
Ross watched as Julia’s peaceful face lost some of its relaxed bliss. Her eyebrows lowered and the crease that often came between them when she was tense or worried made an appearance.
That didn’t take long.
He had expected her to begin to question the wisdom of their actions long before now. He forced himself to let her form her questions and concerns. He was ready to set her mind at ease. He’d plotted for weeks about this adventure and he was determined to have his own way.
Ross was going to overcome her fear of loss to conquer her heart and claim it as his own.
This was the battle of his life.
Ross had no intention of surrendering or retreating. Before they left this cabin, it was her white flag he expected to see on the horizon.
Trying to appear relaxed, Ross closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the edge of the tub. He didn’t have long to wait.
“What happens when we leave here?” she asked.
Ross opened his eyes, but didn’t lift his head. “Here?”
“What do you want to happen?” he asked, throwing the ball back into her court.
“I—I don’t know,” she stuttered. No doubt she was shocked he was leaving it up to her. He rarely gave a woman the upper hand in his liasons and Julia knew it.
“I mean, I can’t live without you as my editor or my friend,” she continued. “If what we’re doing here is going to jeopardize that, I want to stop right now.”